Favourite manga & graphic novels

I never really got into American comics as a child, but I read Asterix and Tintin voraciously, so those were my introduction to the art of telling a sustained story in graphic form. Asterix, especially, is something I can read over and over, at least the original ones. Uderzo is a great artist, but a poor writer, so the ones done after Goscinny’s death are, for my taste anyway, best forgotten.

The first manga I bought was probably a volume of Full Metal Panic or Inuyasha, both of which proved addictive. Over the years I’ve bought volumes of Bleach, Ranma, Cowboy Bebop, Crest of the Stars, Hellsing, R.O.D., gone through all of Ceres and Nausicaa in the library …. I’ve just finished reading the first two volumes of Chmakova’s Nightschool, too, and loved it. Great story. (Yay, Canada.) But my all-time favourites are Fullmetal Alchemist and the two-volume Sengoku Nights, as well as Shirow Masamune’s Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed.

When I decided to try my hand at turning one of my short stories in a graphic novel, I studied up for it by sitting down and reading stacks of Fullmetal Alchemist, Sengoku Nights, and the Shirow Masamune again, trying not to get lost in the story, but to pay attention to pacing, and how to convey information, do world-building, that isn’t dialogue. (Or how to convey information in dialogue that wouldn’t be presented that way, in a novel.) Secondary world fiction, whether a novel or graphic, has to spend some time taking the reader into the unfamiliar world. (The same goes for science fiction set in the primary world, like Ghost in the Shell, or historical fiction: the future is another country and so is the past.) Shirow Masamune is a bit like Terry Pratchett: in love with footnotes. I didn’t think that would work for my story, though. I’ve settled for having characters think a bit more to explain things when necessary, and the fact that there is a framing narrative in the original helps. We’ve also been discussing having an appendix, with a bit of background information on the cosmology, so people who want to sort out the different types of supernatural beings can do so.

About K.V. Johansen

The author of Blackdog, The Leopard, The Lady, and Gods of Nabban, epic fantasies from Pyr, I also write for teens and children, including the "Torrie", "Warlocks of Talverdin", and "Cassandra Virus" series, and the "Pippin and Mabel" picture books, as well as a couple of short story collections and two works of adult literary criticism on the history of children's fantasy literature. I have a Master's degree in Mediaeval Studies, and read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, and history. Blog at thewildforest.wordpress.com
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